Archive for the 'Sorcémon' Category

Updated Priorities

August 21, 2008

Now that Geiger Beta is out, it’s time to take a break from that and give people some time to play it and make comments. Which means I can finally think about other things.

Dev recently said that he wants to play the Avatar game, which means I need to tweak it a bit. I might just end up blatantly stealing the fight mechanics from Mist-Robed Gate, because I think they’ll work mighty well. Then a few other tweaks and we’re off. The Avatar game still gets the most hits of anything on my website, so perhaps I should just release it through Bleeding Play in PDF form, once we playtest it a bunch more.

Push is definitely near the top of the list. I want to get the other articles from Push 1 up in HTML format on Bleeding Play, make the link to the PDF more prominent, type in the edits to her article that Em sent me months ago, and get Push 1 set up on Lulu so people can order print copies at cost. I also want to start getting some of the stuff from Push 2 up. Eero and Bill’s articles in particular are things I’ve been sitting on for many months. I just need to edit them, ask for a couple corrections from the authors, and post them up there.

Currently, it looks like Transantiago development may move to Secret Wars for a bit, since Shreyas has agreed to help me work on the passages from the rules that are supposed to be read aloud during play.

And then there’s Fingers on the Firmament, which I’ve been thinking about a ton and can’t wait to get to. Development-wise, I think it comes right after Transantiago, since Justin is still focused on getting the John Rain game done. It will rock some serious socks. Honestly, after playing 4th some more, I’m also interested in seeing the changes they’re coming out with for the GSL, on the outside chance that Firmament might be able to mine some of the better parts of the new edition. We’ll see.

Then, on the outside, things I still want to finish some day:
Agonia
The Snow Queen
Sorcémon

Monster Combat Issues

April 8, 2008

I’ve been trying to figure out the monster battle rules for Sorcémon. My instinct is to have a basic conflict resolution system for basic character-character interaction, maybe something as simple as Sorcerer or Otherkind dice, and then to have monster combat be when you Bring Down the Pain and rough each other’s monsters up on the Agon-inspired Awesome Battlefield using the See-and-Raise structure from Dogs in the Vineyard.

However, in practice, putting all that together is a little difficult. Movement (positioning) and range is critical in Agon but unimportant in Dogs or Pokemon. I’ve been thinking that the positioning and range concerns of Agon could be replaced by rolls that convince your demon to actually fight on your behalf, but it may be that demon-sorcerer conflicts are best handled outside of combat, instead of allowing them to distract from the fun of battles. Also, it’s tricky to figure out how escalation works, since I set up the sorcerer’s traits to allow for escalation (from talking to doing to fighting to sorcery), but that sounds like long-form conflict resolution, not the quick and dirty conflicts I imagined sorcerers would be directly involved in. Maybe that escalation is used in conflicts with your own demons? Not sure.

It’s also unclear how many of your character’s traits you should be able to roll in demon-demon combat. Surely we want sorcerers to be invested in conflicts as well, or what’s the point? But, generally speaking, demons do most of the fighting, with their sorcerers egging them on or suggesting certain attacks or defenses. But Lilith should also be able to use the Devilexicon to find out the secret weaknesses of opposing demons before attacking them. Guy’s been suggesting that the sorcerers and demons perhaps operate according to entirely different rules, which would be kinda cool, especially since one of the core characters is going to be a demon sorcerer. I clearly have to spend a bit more time thinking about this.

One thing I am pretty sure about: while sorcerers can gain XP/Artha/whatever from using Keys and Aspects, demons advance only through the Fallout gained from conflicts and through the besting of other demons, the latter of which earns them new abilities as spoils, in the manner of tattoos in Beast Hunters.

Hopefully, once Dread: The First Book of Pandemonium arrives, I’ll be able to mix that with Beast Hunters and My Life With Master to create the monster combat rules. I’d still like to include some of the miniatures-based stuff from Agon and Primitive too. We’ll see. Also, I suppose I should probably check out Contenders again.

Sorcémon Sheet 0.4

April 7, 2008

More tweaking. Finally happy with the Tree of Knowledge. Putting in some text and pictures to test it out.

Awesome Battlefield

April 7, 2008

Who needs the Agon range map when you can have an Awesome Battlefield?

Mountain Witch + Agon + Sorcerer

April 4, 2008

fate.jpg

Each character has a Dark Fate, which the associated player choses from a list or invents themselves. The Dark Fate is associated with a Dark Fate Die that begins as a d6. Any time a player wants to invoke their Dark Fate, they can roll their Dark Fate Die in conflicts and describe how their Dark Fate manifests. As a character’s Humanity lowers, they move closer to realizing the doom associated with their Dark Fate, which generally involves death, madness, or giving into the dark powers and becoming more or less a demon in their own right. Consequently, the less Humanity a character has, the higher their Dark Fate Die becomes.

Whenever a character loses a point of Humanity, mark it off and — if the character has reached the point where their Dark Fate Die increases — describe a major milestone in their succumbing to their Dark Fate occuring. This does not necessarily have to occur in the current scene, but it should definitely occur before the end of the current session and before the character has a chance to lose more Humanity.

Losing all their Humanity and reaching the doom associated with their Dark Fate is the only way a character ceases to be playable. The physical, emotional, and social damage accrued during conflicts can never kill a character, just incapacitate them, cause them to lose the stakes of the conflict, or cause their traits to develop in negative ways due to Fallout.

Sorcémon Sheet 0.2

April 3, 2008

Continuing to tweak this, now in color.

sorcemon2.jpg

Still not happy with the Tree of Knowledge. Vincent’s “Tree of Life” symbol is fantastic, but I can’t quite get it to do what I want, since the branches of the tree (now the roots) make it hard to figure out where to place the labels for the core attributes.

I drew the little figure there to show how I want the character illustrations (included, since the game uses fixed starting characters ala Final Fantasy) to pop out a bit from the borders just like the heading text.

I throw Aspects up there, but I’m not sure exactly how I’m gonna steal from SOTC yet. Clearly compels are a pretty hot little technique, though I might use them John Harper “no cost to avoid a compel” style.

Have no clue how the demon vs. demon mechanics work yet, so that part of the sheet is very vague. I imagine the writeups for your demons will go on another sheet, unless I can make them super simplified, along the lines of Afraid NPCs, just bunches of dice that you roll, with the color and abilities completely improvised. That seems less fun, though. Maybe demons could just be bunches of dice with descriptive traits attached for color? Not sure.

Background: The Shab-al-Hiri Manuscript

April 3, 2008

Dr. William Appleby-Jenkins, Professor of Old Testament and Ancient Near Eastern History and Archaeology, discovered a mysterious arcane manuscript hidden deep in a cave near the Shab-al-Hiri potash mine. After bringing the text back to Pemberton University for closer examination, he discovered that it was none other than the lost and dreaded Devilexicon, a complete account of all 133,316,666 traitorous angels that fell following the War in Heaven, written in Eve’s own flowing script on papyrus made from the Tree of Knowledge.

After deciphering the prophetic inscriptions in the foul book, Dr. Appleby-Jenkins knew the Endtimes were close at hand, but both he and his wife had succumbed to the foul temptations of a roach demon that had lain in waiting between the manuscript’s pages. Thinking of the future and using all his strength to resist the roach’s commands, the professor locked the Devilexicon deep within the bowels of the Pemberton Library and left detailed instructions for his yet unborn child, explaining how to recover it.

Months later, the Rapture occurred. A third of humanity, marked on the forehead as members of the Blesséd, transcended to a higher plane. A further third of humanity, along with all of animal-kind, were also taken away, not counted among the Blesséd, but not doomed to spend eternity on the charred husk of the earth as one of the Damned. Both Dr. Appleby-Jenkins and his pregnant wife, due to their consorting with the roach demon, were counted among that final third, left to be the playthings of demons.

Generally, unborn children were counted among the Blesséd and violently wrenched from the wombs of any mothers counted among the Damned, heading straightaway to Paradise. However, Lilith Appleby-Jenkins was born right as the Rapture was taking place and, as such, came into this scorched, sinful world marked as one of the Blesséd, the only pure soul to be left behind, the Damsel Messiah.

Not wanting their newborn daughter to fall into the roach’s clutches, the professor’s wife placed her in the care of Rev. Gaylord Talley, Pemberton’s chaplain, who took her far away. The roach, now grown to enormous proportions, revealing its true form, devoured both Dr. Appleby-Jenkins and his wife for their disobedience.

Twelve years later, a young Lilith Talley sits at the bedside of her dying “father,” the only parent she has ever known, only to hear him say that, in fact, her surname is Appleby-Jenkins and her real father left her a series of papers which lead to a lost secret that can help humanity fight back against the demons. However, in order to decipher her father’s notes and track down the hidden Devilexicon, she must first seek out the assistance her father’s favorite student… Regina Sutton.

This is where play begins.

Possible Dark Secrets for Lilith Talley Appleby-Jenkins

  • has power, not because of being Blesséd, but because her mother was Roached when she was born
  • is actually the daughter of Gaylord Talley
  • player’s choice

Possible Dark Secrets for Regina Sutton

  • is actually Lilith’s mother
  • is actually a servant of the Roach
  • is actually Eve herself, the author of the Devilexicon
  • player’s choice

Brief Notes

April 3, 2008

Eric Pinnick ran Agon last night at SGBoston. It was glory-tastic, as usual. We had a jokester character named Fantasticles and that didn’t harm the vibe at all. How can you not love everything John Harper touches? The dude is magic.

Lukas Myhan sent me an email a few days back, saying:

I ran Geiger Counter at Gamestorm this weekend! Tentacled spider aliens thoroughly ravaged an asteroid mining facility, with only one survivor getting away in an escape pod. Reactions to the game from the people playing it were very positive.

Awesome. I can’t wait for the full writeup. Thanks, Lukas!

Also, my favorite used academic bookstore is moving closer to me and was having a moving sale (two great developments, together!) so I picked up this book on galactic structure from 1963. Seems like that should be accurate enough for Fingers on the Firmament. Also, ever since Fate, the core rules of Spirit of the Century, went OGL, I’ve been thinking about how much fun it would be to hack some bits of it onto the d20 OGL material for Firmament. I’m sure some other people have Fate20 hacks out there, though, so I wanna check those out first.

Finally, I’ve been pondering how to get the demons in Sorcémon to grow in power over time, like pocket monsters are supposed to, and I think the answer lies in Beast Hunters. As Nathan would say, “Niiiice!” Also, the mysterious woman is clearly Regina Sutton, the Demon Slayer. I don’t know why I didn’t think of that before.

Ultimate Mashup of Ultimate Destiny

April 2, 2008

I’m not sure indie roleplaying is ready for this.

sorcemon1.jpg

Dealing with Demons

April 2, 2008

Sorcerers generally bind demons by, first, defeating them through direct combat or trickery and, second, using sorcery to bind the vanquished or humiliated demon to them. Defeating demons before binding or banishing them with sorcery is mechanically useful because any dice remaining from the previous conflict (besting them) are kept when you escalate to sorcery. Furthermore, the dice you have remaining at the end of the binding/banishing ritual (negotiated using Polaris’ ritual phrases) is the strength of the sorcery, measured in the demon’s Fear of disobeying you, it’s master.

For example, say Lilith is binding her first demon, Adremelech, who she has already defeated using the Devilexicon. She opened the unholy book and the corrupting symbol of the Tree of Knowledge (perhaps an upside-down Tree of Life?) burned itself into the demon’s forehead, showing it a glimpse of the dark fate that awaits all demons at the End of Days. At the end of this conflict, Lilith has the following dice remaining, unspent for Sees, Raises, or Taking the Blow: d6 d4 d4. It doesn’t matter what values remain on the dice.

Lilith and Adremelech work out a binding agreement (using ritual phrases) that is amicable to them both, ending with “And so it came to pass.” If the negotiations had ended with “It shall not come to pass,” there would be a follow-up binding conflict in which Lilith and Adremelech competed in a battle of wills over whether the binding would hold. As it is, the details of the binding contract are written down in the appropriate place on the demon’s sheet and the demon’s Fear (of disobeying Lilith and the rules of the binding) is marked as being d6 d4 d4. If there had been a follow-up binding conflict, these dice would have been re-rolled on Lilith’s side and Lilith’s remaining dice, if any, left at the end of a successful binding conflict would be the demon’s new Fear value.

Fear dice are intimidating to demons because sorcerers get them as a bonus in every conflict against a demon that is bound to them. Once a demon is bound, the sorcerer can expect the demon to honor the agreement as long as their Fear remains sufficiently strong. Minor, unimportant violations may be near constant, since demons chafe under binding restrictions, but they cannot openly violate the agreement without paying the consequences. If a demon violates the terms of a binding agreement in a significant way, they suffer sharp pain and their Fear increases, symbolized by ALL the Fear dice going up in size one step (for example, Adremelech’s Fear would become d8 d6 d6). However, if the sorcerer violates the agreement in a significant fashion, all the Fear dice go down in size one step, with d4s disappearing entirely (Andremelech’s Fear would only be one d4).

Demons cannot completely disregard or utterly violate a binding contract, however much they would like to, but humans can, since they are not themselves creatures of sorcery. In the event that a sorcerer completely forsakes their agreement with a demon, the contract is broken and all Fear involved evaporates. Furthermore, all other demons current bound to the sorcerer have their Fear decreased one step, since the sorcerer has been shown to be an oath-breaker.

If a demon’s Fear of a sorcerer is low, the sorcerer can always attempt to re-bind the demon more firmly to them, using any remaining Fear as bonus dice in the attempt. However, failed attempts to rebind mean the contract is annulled and the demon’s Fear evaporates, which is often not a great situation for a sorcerer to be in.

Banishing demons is a lot easier than binding them. For one thing, the ritual phrases are more fixed, generally dealing with the demon leaving the surrounding area and not returning. Additionally, the resulting Fear serves as a measurement of how long the demon has to honor the banishing contract. Dice remaining are read in order as time units, where no dice means a few hours time, d4s are days, d6s are months, d8s are years, and d10s are centuries.

I’m a bit worried about measuring things in dice and not the values on the dice, because you could roll a 1 on your d10 and then not be tempted to use it in the conflict, saving it for the binding/banishing value. But that might be okay. After all, rolling a 1 means you’re much less likely to win the conflict and it makes sense that hard fought conflicts earn you more powerful sorcery.

Stealing from Dogs & Polaris & MLWM

April 2, 2008

So apparently this hack is going to combine all the indie games about demons. Guess I have to go find copies of Dust Devils and Dread now.

Sorcerers’ Escalation

1. Social (Lore + Heart)
2. Physical (Stamina + Heart)
3. Fighting (Stamina + Will)
4. Sorcery (Lore + Will)

Demons’ Escalation

1. Social (Reason + Fear)
2. Physical (Power + Fear)
3. Fighting (Power + Self-Loathing)
4. [Resisting] Sorcery (Reason + Self-Loathing)

Ritual Phrases (Sees/Raises) for Sorcery (Banishing/Binding)

1. But only if
2. And furthermore
3. You ask far too much
4. And so it came to pass
5. It shall not come to pass

Demons subtract their Weariness from all rolls to resist sorcery.
Demon traits always take the form of either “More Than Human” or “Less Than Human.”
Demon Needs/Desires drawn from the Roach Deck?
Humans have Dark Fates?

Usable Bits of Sorcerer

April 1, 2008

Just read Sorcerer all the way through for the first time. It’s good stuff, but I don’t think it quite does what I want for Sorcémon, unfortunately. So, dammit, now I have yet another hack to work on.

Binding, Punishing, and Banishing demons seem to be the kinds of tasks I can imagine sorcerer’s doing. Contacting and Summoning are pretty much out and Containing seems a bit weird. I like that Banishing is easier and less risky than Binding. That means the crew is likely to Banish most demons and only Bind those that it’s having great success against or really wants to control.

Humanity seems fine. I’ll have to read Sorcerer and Soul to decide what to do with it though, I think.

Combat doesn’t do quite what I need. I was thinking of something more task resolution-y, but this is a bit too much. Also the damage rules are not as straightforward as I would like and the demonic abilities that are useful in combat need to be be more general and unified.

The way previous rolls add on to subsequent rolls seems problematic for my SGBoston play group. Specifically, I can imagine Eric and Richard abusing the hell out of this rule, coming up with ridiculously elaborate plans. I guess there’s always a chance of failing some step along the way, but that doesn’t seem all that fun (failing, I mean, or having everyone else sit back while the elaborate plans roll out).

I think we have better tools for negative traits now, so Price, Desire, and Need could all stand to be reformatted in the style of TSOY Keys or Nobilis Restrictions.

Next up, mining Dogs in the Vineyard, TSOY, Spirit of the Century, and In a Wicked Age for usable bits. Hopefully, between those four I can hack together something like a complete game.